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Malaysia: Cases Involving Charges Related to Supporting Islamic State

(July 5, 2016) In recent months there have been several reports of charges being brought against people in Malaysia for activities related to their alleged support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also referred to as the Islamic State or ISIS).  The majority of the charges involve terrorism-related offenses under chapter IVA of the Malaysian Penal Code.  (Penal Code, Act 574 (as at Jan. 1, 2015), Laws of Malaysia website.)  The offenses in this chapter include:

  • committing terrorist acts (s 130C);
  • providing devices to terrorist groups (s 130D);
  • recruiting persons to be members of terrorist groups or to participate in terrorist acts (s 130E);
  • providing training and instruction to terrorist groups and persons committing terrorist acts (s 130F);
  • inciting, promoting, or soliciting property for the commission of terrorist acts (s 130G);
  • providing facilities in support of terrorist acts (s 130H);
  • directing activities of terrorist groups (s 130I);
  • soliciting or giving support to terrorist groups or for the commission of terrorist acts (s130J);
  • harboring persons committing terrorist acts (s 130K);
  • membership in a terrorist group (s 130KA);
  • intentionally omitting to give any information relating to terrorist acts (s 130M);
  • providing or collecting property for terrorist acts (s 130N);
  • providing services for terrorist purposes (s 130O);
  • arranging for retention or control of terrorist property (s 130P);
  • dealing with terrorist property (s 130Q);
  • accepting compensation for facilitating or enabling terrorist acts (s 130QA);
  • intentionally omitting to give information about terrorist property (s 130R); and
  • intentionally omitting to give information relating to offenses of financing terrorism (s 130S).  

The punishments for these offenses include, for example, up to 30 years of imprisonment for offenses under sections 130D to 130H and life imprisonment for offenses under sections 130J to 130KA.  If an act results in death, the death penalty is imposed under sections 130C, 130I, 130N, 130O, and 130QA.

In addition, several new terrorism-related offenses were added by the Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2015. (Act A1483, Negeri Sembilan Law Courts official website.)  They include:

  • receiving training and instruction from terrorist groups and persons committing terrorist acts (s 130FA);
  • attendance at a place used for terrorist training (s 130FB);
  • traveling to, through, or from Malaysia for the commission of terrorist acts in a foreign country (s 130JA);
  • possession, etc. of items associated with terrorist groups or terrorist acts (s 130JB);
  • building, etc. any conveyance for use in terrorist acts (s 130JC); and
  • preparation of terrorist acts (s 130JD).

Section 130J of the principal act was also amended to add paragraphs related to accumulating weapons to further the activities of a terrorist group; arranging the transportation of persons to further the activities of a terrorist group; traveling to, entering, or remaining in a foreign country to further the activities of a terrorist group or to commit a terrorist act, and encouraging or inducing any person to leave Malaysia for these purposes; and using social media to advocate for or promote a terrorist group or the commission of a terrorist act.  (Id. s 3.)

Reported Cases

  • In March 2016, two men were each sentenced to three years and six months of imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to charges related to promoting terrorism and supporting the Islamic State.  (Unemployed Man and Friend Jailed for Supporting IS, MLTIC (Mar. 16, 2016).)  One of the men was charged, under section 130J(1)(a) of the Penal Code, with “promoting the commission of a terrorist act with intention to propagate an ideology to incite the masses in Syria at Kampung Air Jernih, Ijok in Taiping” in April 2014.  (Id.)  He had used a Facebook account to communicate and obtain information on terrorist groups and was also involved in several other activities.  The other man was charged with giving support to a terrorist group under section 130G(a) of the Penal Code.  He had attended a meeting and encouraged people to join a group known as “Daulah Islamiah” in order to go to Syria and had proposed the setting up of a “jihad” training camp in Penang, Malaysia.  (Id.)
  • In April 2016, it was reported that three people – a policewoman, a moneychanger, and a businessman – appeared in magistrate’s courts in Selayang, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on terrorism-related charges.  (Maizatul Nazlina, Policewoman Charged over ISIS Ties, STAR ONLINE (Apr. 20, 2016).)  The businessman, who was accused of managing a bank account “with the intention of providing the facility to be used by terrorists,” was charged under section 130O(1)(b)(bb) of the Penal Code.  The moneychanger is charged with possessing items related to terrorist acts under section 130JB(1)(a) of the Penal Code.  The policewoman is charged, under section 130M of the Penal Code, with “intentionally omitting information on terrorism acts” between 2015 and March 22, 2016.  (Id.)
  • On June 8, 2016, it was reported that an aircraft technician had appeared before the Shah Alam, Malaysia magistrate’s court, on two counts of promoting terrorist acts.  (Joash Ee De Silver, Aircraft Technician Charged for Terrorism, STAR ONLINE (June 8, 2016).)  He allegedly promoted membership in the Islamic State at his house between December 2013 and October 2015.  The charges were brought under sections 130G(b) and 130H of the Penal Code.  (Id.)
  • About ten days later, it was reported, also in Shah Alam, that a different aircraft technician had been charged, under section 130J(1)(a) of the Penal Code, with using his Facebook account to support the Islamic State.  (S. Tamarai Chelvi, Aircraft Technician Charged with Supporting IS, SUN DAILY (June 17, 2016).)
  • Also in June, in the Petaling Jaya magistrate’s court, a car painter was charged under section 130JB(1)(a) of the Penal Code with possessing items related to the Islamic State.  (De Silver, supra.)  In a separate case involving the same section of the Penal Code, a woman was charged in the Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court of possessing an item related to a terrorist group, being a black headband with the Arabic phrases “Lailahaillallah Muhammadarrasulullah” and “Allah Rasul Muhammad” (the phrases on the Islamic State flag).  (Khairan N. Karim, Woman Charged with Possessing Terrorism-Related Item, NEW STRAITS TIMES ONLINE (June 16, 2016).)
  • On June 21, 2016, it was reported that the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, Malaysia, increased the sentences of a financial consultant and a cafe manager who pleaded guilty to charges under section 130G(c) of the Penal Code, related to soliciting contributions for the benefit of the Islamic State through a blog and arranging to facilitate the acquisition and control of property for Islamic State terrorists at a bank in Subang Jaya, in the State of Selangor.  (Appeals Court Increases Jail Term for Two Men Convicted of Terrorism-Related Offences, SUN DAILY (June 21, 2016).)  The original sentence for each of the defendants, handed down by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in February 2016, was imprisonment for three years on the charges of soliciting the contributions and two years for the facilitation charge, to be served concurrently.  The prosecution appealed the length of the term of imprisonment, and the three-judge panel on the Court of Appeal increased the prison term to 15 years on each charge, ordering that the sentences be served concurrently from the date of the defendants’ arrest on October 13, 2014.  (Id.)